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Car bomb kills 17 in crowded market in Pakistan

December 17, 2012|By Zulfiqar Ali
  • Pakistani security officials examine the wreckage of a destroyed vehicle at the site of a car bomb attack in Jamrud in Khyber district.
Pakistani security officials examine the wreckage of a destroyed vehicle… (A. Majeed / AFP/Getty Images )

PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- Militants detonated a car bomb at a bustling market in Pakistan’s volatile tribal belt Monday, killing at least 17 people and injuring more than 70 others just two days after Pakistani Taliban fighters launched a coordinated assault on an airport in the nearby city of Peshawar.

The powerful explosion tore through several shops and severely damaged more than a dozen vehicles in the town of Jamrud, the administrative headquarters of the Khyber tribal region along the border with Afghanistan, local officials said. Muhammad Iqbal, a Khyber administration official, said the bomb was planted in an abandoned car at the market. 

The target of the blast remained unclear. A Pakistani paramilitary forces base is located next to the market, and further down the street are the Khyber administration offices. However, it appeared most of the dead and wounded were townspeople doing their morning shopping. Among the injured were several women and children. Ten people, including a child, were in critical condition, said another Khyber official, Muhammad Nasir.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Pakistani Taliban maintains a strong presence in the Khyber region. The insurgent group took responsibility for a rocket-grenade assault on the airport and air force base in Peshawar on Saturday that killed four civilians. Five militants were killed in the attack, and five other attackers were killed in a gun battle with security forces Sunday afternoon.

Khyber is one of several tribal regions in northwest Pakistan where the army has carried out offensives aimed at dismantling the Pakistani Taliban, the insurgent group that has been plaguing the country with suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism since 2007. Though the offensives have had some success, many militants have been able to flee and find sanctuary in other areas along the border.

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Zulfiqar Ali is a special correspondent based in Peshawar.

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